Devotion and Meaning in Life

December 12, 2024 - December 13, 2024
Department of Philosophy, Boston University

United States

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  • John Templeton Foundation
  • BU Center for the Humanities


Oxford University
Joshua Hicks
Texas A&M University
University of Helsinki
Crystal Park
University of Connecticut


Boston University

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Workshop topic: our lives are pervaded by commitments: you might be committed to meeting a friend for dinner, exercising four times per week, learning a language, being considerate, sustaining a friendship, promoting a political cause.  Some commitments are relatively trivial and readily set aside.  Others are deeper and more resistant to change.  When people display extreme degrees of commitment, we sometimes describe them as devoted.  Devotion seems to involve a particularly robust form of commitment, which might differ from standard forms of commitment in its intensity, stability, resistance to compromise, epistemic status, or deliberative weight.  

This conference seeks to explore the relationship between devotion and meaning in life.  How does devotion connect to our desire for a meaningful or purposeful life?  What needs, longings, or motivations drive us to express devotion?  Do different objects of devotion (such as devotion to fitness communities, to sports teams, to political causes, etc.) fulfill these needs in different ways?  Is devotion linked in important ways to our identity?  To our sense of what is important?

Confirmed Speakers:

Ruth Chang (Oxford, Philosophy/Jurisprudence) 
Joshua Hicks (Texas A&M, Psychology)

Antti Kauppinen (Univ. of Helsinki, Philosophy)
Crystal Park (UConn, Psychology) 

Plus approximately four additional talks selected from abstract submissions.  

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